Martin Luther King Jr. Wasn’t Always a Beloved Figure

From 1963 to 1966 Gallup asked Americans what they thought of Martin Luther King Jr. on a scale of -5 to +5. I’ve renormed this to a more common 0-10 scale:

By 1966, King’s average rating had fallen to 3.5. Even if you exclude the large number of stone racists who gave him a zero, he only scored a 5.4. He was not an especially popular figure.

In 2011, Gallup polled King again using their old scale. By then he was beloved, scoring 8.7 no matter how you count. Even the stone racists had given up. Practically no one rated him less than a 7.

It’s always easier to love someone when he’s no longer around to make trouble, isn’t it?

Fact:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now